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Willy Burkhard (Composer)

Born: April 17, 1900 - Évilard sur Bienne, Leubringen near Biel, canton of Berne, Switzerland
Died: June 18, 1955 - Zürich, Switzerland

The Swiss composer, Willy Burkhard, had graduated from the Muristalden (near Berne) teachers' training college, before he began his musical studies with E. Graf in Berne. In 1921 he went to Leipzig to study at the conservatory there, composition with Sigfrid Karg-Elert and piano with Robert Teichmüller. He had further studies with Walter Courvoisier in Munich and with Max d'Ollone in Paris

In 1928 Willy Burkhard was appointed as theory teacher at the Conservatory in Berne, where he also conducted several choirs and small orchestras. From 1933 on lung problems made sojourns in Montana and Davos necessary. From 1942 until his death he taught composition and music theory at the Zürich Conservatory. His students include Giuseppe G. Englert, Klaus Huber, Rudolf Kelterborn, Ernst Pfiffner, Armin Schibler and Ernst Widmer, among others.

There is no doubt that Willy Burkhard was one of the outstanding and influential Swiss composers of the 20th century. Both his works, in particular as a renovator of church music, and his didactic activities had a lasting influence an the future. His early compositions were in a late-Romantic style, but he soon turned to the contrapuntal and imitative styles of the Renaissance and Bach to create works that can be likened to the styles of Paul Hindemith and Béla Bartók. He later turned to experimentation with 12-tone themes. He played an important role in the renewal of Protestant sacred music, earning renown for his oratorios Das Gesicht Jesajas (1935) and Das Jahr (1942).

Source: All Music Guide Website (Author: Lynn Vought); Willy Burkhard Home Page
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2006)

Use of Chorale Melodies in his works


Chorale Melody


Variations on Aus tiefer Not for Organ, Op. 28
Variationen on the Hassler Chorale Setting of Aus tiefer Not

Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir

Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten, Partita for Organ

Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten


Links to other Sites

Willy Burkhard - Biography (AMG)
swissmusic - Classic Anthology detail

Willy Burkhard (Wikipedia)
Willy Burkhard Home Page



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